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Morocco Overland: From the Atlas to the Sahara - 4WD, Motorcycle, Van, Mountain Bike

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  #1  
Old 18 Feb 2012
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Morocco from the US in April/May 2012

Not sure if this is good place for this topic, but due to lack of vacation time and the itch to travel somewhere internationally for a bike trip, I've been scheming possible get-a-ways, specifically Morocco.

If I had 2-3 weeks, would I be biting off too much for the following;
1) Fly to Spain - rent a GSA. (I own a 2009 1200GSA)
2) Travel to Morocco (Ferry)
3) Tour Morocco (Self or with others with local knowledge)
4) Return to Spain
5) Fly back home

I looked at MotoAdventours website as a possibility to rent. I would be traveling alone, so I would most likely try and connect with fellow riders on HUBB (If they'd have me..)

I'd certainly fall into the preference for more dirt track and camping along the way, as I seek out the same here in the western/desert SW States.

Some questions;

Any words of wisdom?
I don't believe I need a carnet since I'm renting, correct?
Is this doable without feeling completely rushed?
Are the logistics of of crossing into Morocco complicated? What is the most popular place to ferry from and to?
Will I be shut out language wise? I only speak English and a bit of Spanish.

I've got a good bit of European travel and SA travel under the belt - just not by moto.

I'm sure I've not thought of all the details and the trip cost will most likely add up - but shipping my bike seems more complex and expensive - and I haven't got much choice to see these destinations with lack of vacation time.

Any thoughts, advice on Moroccan routes (for my timeframe) or the trip in general are much appreciated!

Mike

(Previously posted in Trip Planning - thanks to The Warden for suggesting this spot instead)
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  #2  
Old 18 Feb 2012
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The Road to Morocco

Hi Mike,

It's very do-able! The time frame is just right; too many folks try to do it all in a week. Morocco's the kind of place where you need to take your time and soak it all in.

In answer to your questions:-

You don't need a carnet.
You'll get by with English & Spanish.
Getting into Morocco involves filling in a small white card with your personal details on the ferry, presenting this and your passport to the official on board and again at the port. It's a much easier process than most border crossings.

Getting around is easy - the road network is good.
Your mobile phone will work almost everywhere.
Your VISA card will work for drawing out cash and at larger fuel stations.
Hotels/auberges are cheap and plentiful.

Get a copy of Chris Scott's "Morocco Overland" it's all in there.

Hope that helps.
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  #3  
Old 18 Feb 2012
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... or rent in Mk?

You can also hire a smaller trail bike out of Marrakech, Agadir and some other towns.
loc2roues location motos scooters quads marrakech maroc (Mkch).

If you're really into dirt that get a 650 or less from loc - more fun than a 12 (which they rent too).

No border hassles, less rushing, miss out the less interesting north, more exploring.

And I'd suggest reconsidering camping with all the gear required and enjoy the many southern Moroccan auberges from €15 half board and then ride a largely unloaded bike by day.
By May it could be quite hot down south (Alg border) but just right in the Atlas.

You'll have a great time!

For recommended maps and guidebooks look here

Ch
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  #4  
Old 19 Feb 2012
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Thanks JoJo1 and Chris!

Great sounding advice and information on the plan and camping - I hadn't considered flying directly to Marrakech! Both suggestions certainly do simplify things.

Is it fairly typical to go without reservations for hostels/hotels/auberges? Also, after seeing your recommendation for Mk rental, I also found the company called Palm Road - are either of you familiar with this company? (Was just looking to compare a couple...)

I'm definitely going to get Moroccan Overland Chris - thoroughly enjoyed the AMH 5th edition and revisit it regularly

Again, many thanks for the great info and advice...I'll get my nose further into the planning/education process..

Mike
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  #5  
Old 19 Feb 2012
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Definitely rent locally and save the need to get back to Spain at the end of your trip. Some other day you'll fly to Spain and enjoy some of the finest riding anywhere, but this is a Morocco trip.

Definitely rent a lighter bike if you're planning to get off the pavement.

I'd suggest you'll be happier if you can learn some bits of French before going, for all the usual reasons. Of course you'll manage without, but things are easier, friendlier and more fun with the basics. Put some effort into it.

I'd also suggest that 3 weeks isn't long enough. It's a bigger country than it appears, and it contains a lot of variety in landscape and people. Of course, you make do with what you've got available, but you're going to have to pare somewhat or you'll spend all your time riding....which is not the idea. Unless, of course, it is.

In case it's not already clear, don't use a credit card to withdraw money: use a debit card, and carry two just in case. Check with your cell provider before using international roaming; cheap sim cards are available if you've got the phone to suit, and cheap phones if you don't.

Great country on a bike!

Mark

Edit to add: Oh, and have a look here: http://www.ukgser.com/forums/showthread.php?p=818831
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  #6  
Old 19 Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
I'd suggest you'll be happier if you can learn some bits of French before going, for all the usual reasons. Of course you'll manage without, but things are easier, friendlier and more fun with the basics. Put some effort into it.
If you going to learn any language for Morocco learn arabic you'll get a much better response from the locals than speking french
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  #7  
Old 19 Feb 2012
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Quote:
Oh, and have a look here...
Tim C now has his own Mk forum:
Morocco Knowledgebase

Never heard of Palm Road but this US guy liked them recently.
I've never used Loc either, but know people who have with no probs.
Like any rental, be sure they know what you plan to do - and that you know what you're getting re: condition of tyres and chain and equipment like elementary tools, tyre repair/inflation and any equipment. Or BYO to be sure.

I have never reserved lodgings in Mk. Down south there are more places to stay than people to fill them and the cheap places I stay are usually empty. Most tour groups go to blinged-out 'kasbahs'.
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  #8  
Old 19 Feb 2012
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Thanks Mark, TW, and Chris for advice on language, time, and rental referral thread info. I'm certainly not the blinged-out kasbah type...

I happened upon Tim C's thread earlier, so I've signed onto UKGSer and will be reading in full (and to contact the US guy that recently rented at Palm-Road).

Trip is still tentative, but I'm starting to pull together costs and logistics which will help make the decision clearer!

Thanks again, and if you think of anything else I should know, I'm all ears...

Mike
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  #9  
Old 19 Feb 2012
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Hana and David at Motoadventours have R1200GS bikes to rent and also offer accompanied tours both in Spain and Morocco. There's something to be said about entering Africa by ferry. Algeciras to Tanger Med (post #5 on this thread is the best route).

Reda at Palm Road is a colleague of Tim Skilton at LocoForMotos and both are based in Marrakech. I understand they have F800GS and perhaps R1200GS. Tim was also talking about Husqvarnas the last time we met.

I've used Loc2Roues (hire two wheels) several times and am flying in to Marrakech on Tuesday and renting a couple of Noureddine's G650GS single bikes. He and Celine also have F650GS twin and R1200GS options plus lighter weight alternatives.

Peter Buitelaar at BikersHome in Ouarzazate (bus ride from Marrakech over the Atlas Mountains) has several Yamaha TT600 bikes. BikersHome is a great place to head for anyway and Zineb (Peter's wife) is a great cook.

All of these people are reliable and trustworthy and I fully recommend them.

Tim

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  #10  
Old 19 Feb 2012
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If you decide to rent from Marrakech, try to avoid flying Royal Air Maroc into Casablanca, instead fly from the US into one of EasyJet's hub airports (such as Madrid) and from there fly directly into Marrakech. Should be better service, cheaper and maybe faster.

Morocco is a veritable Tower of Babel when it comes to languages, a lot of Spanish in the north, in the south you'll get by with English + mime.

Wild camping is fine and I normally carry a bivi bag even when not planning to camp just in case, but in the mountains (where it can be cold at night) I prefer to stay in basic gites d'etape (pictures here) where evening meal, bed and breakfast (sometimes also a hammam) is typically 120-160dh (under $20).

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  #11  
Old 20 Feb 2012
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Thank you Tim!

Excellent information and great resource that you put together on UKGSer! I actually stumbled onto it via some other threads here and promptly bookmarked it.

Have a good trip this week!

Thanks to all for the feedback - loving the HUBB website as a resource for planning such a trip...

Mike
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